Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Email, Meetings (and Managers)

A cross post from my corporate blogging...

A local blogger (Conner McCall) posted these email rules he wished co-workers would adhere to:
  1. No email shall contain less than one actionable item
  2. No email shall contain more than three actional items
  3. Any email that is information only should be posted to a wiki/website/blog and not be sent by email
  4. Anyone responding to an email that follows rules 1-3 which asks a question whose answer can be found within the email they are responding to, shall be fined $5
  5. Senders of emails breaking rules one or two must buy any recipients of the email lunch.
Tough love!  I can only imagine the fine he'd leverage on someone who hit "respond to all."
Along the same lines, Midwest TED has a presentation by Jason Fried of 37Signals called "Why Work Doesn't Happen at Work" (15:21 minutes) which includes the quote, "Meetings and managers are two major problems in business today."  Harsh, but managers should be actively working to eliminate unnecessary meetings and all the distractions that prevent team members from doing work (and I'd add, as a member of the the corporate initiative team currently finalizing the career planning framework, that the discussion about which meetings need eliminating and what can be done to remove distractions is an action item at every level).  I think we see that voiced more clearly in our Agile projects where discussions about roles that don't include whether managers and architects are vestigial organs - I'm not saying they are, but it's a thread in some Agile commentary if you're an avid reader - frequently focus on the necessity of the manager to rapidly eliminate roadblocks to team velocity, particularly at the touchpoints where a non-Agile team or process (procurement, budgeting, discussions with other management, et al) can completely derail forward momentum.  Meetings can definitely be roadblocks to momentum.

If you have meetings that are unnecessary, or email strains (those pesky chains that generate much email for little worth and could probably be handled with a status elsewhere) that should be pruned or purged, consider recommending how to remedy the situation and freeing up some productive time for everyone on your team.

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